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15 Activities to Strengthen Fine Motor Skills | Education to the Core

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When students begin the school year, many of them have never held a pencil or colored with a crayon before. This can make it really difficult for them to get started with writing, cutting, and gluing tasks. Those little muscles just haven’t had the practice or strength building yet. That’s why it’s important to incorporate various fun and challenging activities throughout your curriculum to help students build their fine motor skills.

On the other hand, many students have had plenty of practice holding a pencil or coloring before they begin the school year, but their fine motor skills just need some extra practice. Whatever the case, these fine motor activities can be built right into your existing curriculum to extend upon the language arts and math skills you are already teaching!

Fine Motor Activity 1 – Tweezers

My favorite is the tweezers from the Dollar Tree that can be found in the school supply section! These are perfect for their small hands and provide enough resistance to be a workout for their little fingers muscles. Tweezers are perfect for grabbing and counting cotton balls, pom pom balls, and more! Tweezers can quickly be added to a counting or math center for extra fine motor practice. Sight Word Menus have a pom pom option as one of the choices for building sight words, which is a great tweezer opportunity!

2 – Ice Cube Tray Sort

Put an ice cube tray and some bear counters in a center and let students sort away! Putting them in the tray AND taking them out, puts those fine motor skills in action. Ice cube trays are great for one-to-one correspondence as well.

3 – Play Dough

Play Dough can be used to make letters or numbers. Alphabet Play Dough Mats are a great resource for centers! Just print, laminate, and students are ready to go with some playdough and a dry erase marker. Other options are rolling snakes, flattening pancakes, rolling balls, and so on! Those little fingers are sure to get a workout with a container of playdough. Give your students certain tasks or jobs for the playdough to be sure they are working those little muscles. For example, they can spell out their name, make the numbers from 1 – 10, fill an ice cube tray with one ball in each spot, and so on.

Fine Motor Activity 4 – Cutting Practice

Before you begin cutting crafts and projects, it’s important for students to get comfortable with using scissors and holding them correctly. The cutting pages in our Kindergarten September Packet are a great way to get started with this. Students will have practice cutting on straight, curvy, and zigzag lines with the cutting practice pages.

5 – Lacing Cards

Lacing cards are a favorite choice for inside recess in my classroom! I have found a variety of them on Amazon, but the Melissa and Doug lacing cards are my favorite because they have held up really well over the years.

6 – Tracing Pages

Tracing pages are the perfect opportunity for students to get comfortable holding a pencil, and can allow you time to walk around to check and help students with their pencil grasp. Helping students with proper pencil grasp EARLY is important because it is SO hard to unlearn a habit of holding a pencil differently. Several tracing pages are included in the Kindergarten September Packet.

Fine Motor Activity 7 – String Beads

Adding some number cards to your bead bucket makes a quick and easy math center. Students can select a number card and then string the correct number of beads. My students love to have a race with their center buddy when stringing beads!

8 – Alphabet Foldable Books

These are AMAZING! Alphabet Foldable Books not only teach students about letters, letter sounds, sight words, and sentences, but they are also a great way to work those little fingers! Students love learning the “magic” of folding these little books. They are so proud of themselves when they learn how to fold the books independently. Version 1 of the Alphabet Foldable Books has a tracing option for students, and there is a black and white version along with the color version, so students can color their own books in their little collection.

 9 – Q-tip Sight Words

Students LOVE to paint, and painting with Q-tips helps them build their fine motor skills while having fun. Sight Word Menus have an option for “dab dots” and it’s always a favorite in my classroom.

Fine Motor Activity 10 – Buttons and Zippers

When students are putting on their coats or jackets, this is a great time for them to build their fine motor skills. Encouraging them to do this on their own builds independence as well. Even though we know it’s so much quicker to do it for them, try to give them some time to try themselves. Get ready for lunch, recess, or dismissal 5 or 10 minutes early, so they have time to work on buttons and zippers on their own or with just a little help from the teacher.

11 – Clothespins

In ETTC’s Kindergarten Centers bundle, you will find a set of rhyming clip cards. Clip cards like this are great for opening and closing a clothespin which really builds fine motor strength.

12 – Building Challenges

Stem Story Challenges are FULL of building challenges for your students. All of these challenges have suggested read-aloud stories to introduce the challenges, as well as student work booklets to extend upon the lesson. Students will build their growth mindset, improve their literacy and comprehension skills, focus on teamwork and collaboration, AND strengthen their fine motor skills. My favorite activity that we do multiple times throughout the year is the marshmallow and toothpick challenge. I love to see their growth from the beginning of the year to the end. They always become more creative and elaborate in their creations!

Fine Motor Activity 13 – Bingo Daubers

It’s always a fun time when the bingo daubers come out! Students love to choose their color if you are able to have a variety of colors available.  Poppin’ Sight Words is a great way for students to practice recognizing and reading their sight words while building their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

14 – Puzzles

We love puzzles in our classroom! There are so many options for puzzles that incorporate math or literacy skills. Students are so proud of themselves when they build a word with 3 Letter Word Puzzles. There are CVC puzzles, alphabet puzzles, counting and number puzzles and so many more. Finding ways to incorporate these into morning work, centers, or inside recess time can work on those fine motor skills. ETTC has MANY options for making your own puzzles as well. Printing and prepping your own puzzles ensures that the specific skills you are working on in class are incorporated into the puzzle activities.

Dice, pattern blocks, bingo chips/daubers, counters, counting cubes, and bears – this Centers Bundle includes a HUGE variety of ways to incorporate fine motor activities into your daily centers and activities. My students love building the towers with snap cubes and I love that it incorporates counting and addition!

There are so many fun and simple ways to incorporate fine motor activities into your daily lessons. Students will begin building and strengthening their fine motor skills without even realizing it!  Continue to look for opportunities throughout the day to incorporate fine motor activities into your existing curriculum as often as possible. We hope this list has given you some ideas to get you started.

Written By –  Sarah Cason

At Education to the Core, we exist to help our teachers build a stronger classroom as they connect with our community to find trusted, state-of-the-art resources designed by teachers for teachers. We aspire to be the world’s leading & most trusted community for educational resources for teachers. We improve the lives of every teacher and learner with the most comprehensive, reliable, and inclusive educational resources.

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